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PF2 Alchemical Items: Emetics

Yep, I’m writing about the power of puke. For the 2nd edition Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.

EMETIC Item 1+
Alchemical Consumable Elixir Healing
Usage held in 1 hand; Bulk L
Activate Single Action [Interact]
An emetic makes you nauseous. Drinking a dose when not sickened gives you the sickened condition with a value equal to the emetic’s potency. When you are sickened, a successful DC 15 Fortitude save allows you to imbibe the emetic despite the sickened condition. Rather than increase your sickened value, this gives you a bonus to Fortitude saves to recover from being sickened when you choose to retch. This bonus to equal to the emetic’s potency.

Emetic (Lesser) Item 1
Price 2 gp
Bulk L
This emetic has a potency of 4.

Emetic (Moderate) Item 6
Price 20 gp
Bulk L
This emetic has a potency of 5.

Emetic (Greater) Item 10
Price 110 gp
Bulk L
This emetic has a potency of 6.

Emetic (Major) Item 14
Price 455 gp
Bulk L
This emetic has a potency of 6. Additionally when you successfully retch to reduce the value of your sickened condition, you reduce it by 1 more than normal.

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Starting With Ideas: Really Wild West “Oddities” (for Starfinder)

Fairly often, I get asked how I START a big project. Like, if I know I want a chapter of magic items for the Really Wild West, where would I begin organizing my thoughts and planning that out?

Assuming the pagination and wordcounts was already done by someone else, I’d start with ideas.

Especially for a series of elements using the same basic rules subsystem (such as the features of one character class, a series of magic items for one campaign, feats, spells, new superpowers, whatever), I like to start the conceptual work by spitballing ideas to myself. This isn’t an effort to create completed rules elements yet, just to begin filling out what kinds of ideas I want those rules elements to cover.

There are numerous advantages to this for me. First, I can begin to hash out a tone and flavor for the section. Second, I find it easier to figure out how to use rules to model concepts if I have several of those concepts already in a hopper. Third, often coming up with interesting ideas is the important part of a project for me.  I can’t do it all in one sitting. By making a list early on, I give myself time to iterate, modify, and even reconsider if I need to.

After I have a fair percentage of the ideas I think I need, I’ll go back and begin turning the ones I like best into full rules elements. this lets me see how much wordcount those take up, which lets me know how many ideas I’ll need to fit the space.*

*(Unless the project is based on a specific number of items– like a list of 100 NPC catchphrases or 2 things to do in a dungeon when you’re dead, in which case I still like this process but the thing I learn at this stage is if I need to modify how much info I am putting in each entry to the pre-determined number of items will fill up the pre-determined wordcount. IN this case the feedback loop may be more likely to tell me if my concepts need to change to be more of less detailed.)

I often do ideas in three big waves–when I first start a project, when I run out of those ideas I started with, and when I have a good idea how many ideas I’ll need to finish it. Sometimes one or more of those waves isn’t needed–occasionally I find my first brainstorm gave me everything that will fit, for example. I also jot down ideas as they come to me when I am working on other parts of the work, or even other projects.

So, what do I mean by spitballing ideas?

I just want some sense of what the item is going to be. Maybe a name, maybe a description. If I have some idea of how the rules for the idea should work, I jot that down.

Here’s an example of those spitball ideas (cleaned up to a standard format for presentation on its own, rather than as notes only I will see). These are concepts for “Oddities,” magic items that occur as a result of weird events and energies, rather than being created intentionally, for my Really Wild West setting. Each of these gives enough info to see how it might work in game, but doesn’t yet worry about things like item level, cost, and any special rules Oddities may have as opposed to typical magic items.

RWW Glass Eye

(Art by i-pciture. Of the Eye by the Witch Hazel Pentafaust)

01. Weathered copy of a leather-bound book titled “Diplomacy Through Other Means.” It has hardness 20, 20 hp, and can be used as a light simple melee weapon dealing 1d4 damage (+1d4 per 4 ranks of Culture you have). You can’t add Strength (or any other any ability score modifiers) to damage dealt, but do add you ranks in Culture.

02. Pearl-Handled corkscrew. When screwed into people (normally a full round action that requires they be restrained and which deals 1-2 hp) it forces them to reveal their name, even if they don’t know it themselves.

03. Small hourglass filled with dark blue sand. If flipped and allowed to run normally without being moved, when it goes off it casts a random summon creature (or a random spell level) which no one has any control over. It lasts 1 hour if not otherwise damaged or dispelled.

04. Single old scarf about a yard long, with a smoke stain near top. Does not conduct heat (but can burn), thus can be used as perfect oven mitt or grant fire resist 20 for a thing you touch with it.

05. Zippo lighter with the kanji for “stork” on the side. If used to illuminate a written word medium (scroll, book, so on), the text within it slowly scrolls by in the shadow created by the flame.

06. Wire-frame glasses. If kept tucked in a pocket, halves falling damage for possessor.

07. Stained paper map of Fort Harrison, Indiana, from 1823. If mis-folded and then opened, it creates a fog cloud (as the spell). The map itself is always torn free by a gust of wind that brings in the fog, and normally takes (4d4 – 1d4) x 10 minutes to find.

08. An 1888 John J. Loud ball point pen with green ink. Rapidly (and loudly) clicking the pen gives a +5 bonus to Perception checks, but only against people using Stealth.

09. Small box of “Court Orlock” brand safety matches. If thrown at someone within 15 feet they must make a Will save (DC equal to the touch attack roll to hit them) or spend 1 round picking up the matches. Has 1d4 uses per day.

10. Wicker Picnic Basket, with its own plates, cutlery, and stacking cups as service for 6. If loaded with food and taken out of any settlement and then used for an hourlong or longer picnic, the ort remaining can be interpreted as a diving device. It may act as augurydivination, or commune, as randomly determined by the GM. One of the picnic participants will then have an encounter within 1 week of a high enough CR that average treasure for that encounter would pay for a spell gem of the divination spell gained. The basket don’t work again until the creature using them has had this encounter, which doesn’t have any actual treasure associated with it.

11. Tortoiseshell make-up compact. Anyone who has the powder from the compact (requiring an successful EAC attack against an adjacent creature) blown on them is slowed (as the spell) for 1 minute, and the person who used it is slowed for 10 minutes. Only a creature not slowed can use it.

12. Dried pea. If placed up your nose, it grants a +4 bonus to saving throws against poison, and a successful save always ends the poison. Someone who knows you have it up there can get you to shoot it out with a successful dirty trick maneuver (replacing the normal options for dirty trick).

13. Cork table coaster. Anything placed on it doesn’t experience any passage of time as long nothing else is touching it but air. This DOES keep drinks cold (or hot) much longer, but it also prevents fruit from spoiling, dynamite from exploding, radioactive isotopes from decaying, and so on.

14. Wooden, obviously-toy pistol. When pointed at an animal and the trigger pulled, causes the animal to talk randomly in French for 1 round. There is a 10% chance the first time it  is used each day the animal says something useful and relevant to the user holder.

15. Worn leather coin purse. As long as nothing but coins are stuffed into it there does not seem to be a limit how many fit in, but they can only be added or removed at a rate of 4 credits per round.

16. Tablecloth-sized parchment with complex diagram for an unidentified steam engine. If placed on a stationary, prone creature the piping diagram changes to represent the organs (and injuries) or that creature, granting a +5 bonus to Medicine checks with that creature.

17. Old-style iron key. Fits in any lock. Can’t unlock a lock, but can lock it. If it was already locked, the next person to touch it takes 1 point of electricity damage.

18. Small pot of glossy black lipstick. Never runs out. The first time each day someone wearing the lipstick is damaged by an attacker the wearer has not ever damaged, the wearer may kiss a weapon. That weapon delivers critical hit effects (but not critical hit damage) against that attacker the first time it successfully hits and damages the attacker.

19. A granite die with 20 sides, numbered 7-26. Anyone with this on their person is lucky (gain one reroll each day, rerolling after you see the result of a roll and taking the better of the two results) except in games of chance (always roll twice and take the worst result for all games of chance).

20. Carved whalebone whistle. If blown directly in someone’s ear is heals them for 1d8+1 damage, and they are deafened for 1 hour per hp healed. If the deafness is removed early, the healing is also removed. It cannot heal someone temporarily deaf from this effect. The healing appears to be the revelation the wound wasn’t that bad to begin with — there’s never any actual sign of improved health. A person cannot benefit from this again until after they next expend 1 RP to regain SP after a 10-minute rest.

21. The Sinister Glass Eye of the Witch Hazel Pentafaust. This cracked, yellow glass eye spins and looks about of its own accord. When held in a closed fist, it causes you to be shaken (despite any immunities you might have) and automatically be able to identify any spell you see being cast.

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Knackhacks — Consumable access to tricks and exploits for Starfinder.

So, we’ve increased access to spells withspell guns and runethrowers, and then hex rounds and wandshells. Which might leave spellcasting classes saying :”Hey, those are our class features! It’s not like we can buy a potion of operative exploits!”

But in a galaxy with mnemonic enhancers, why CAN’T get you other some class features as 1-shot consumable items?

Introducing Knackhacks.

Knackhack(art by meenkulathiamma)

Knackhacks                               Item         Credit
Item                                            Level         Cost        Bulk
Knackhack, 2nd-level knack          3             325         L
Knackhack, 6th-level knack           7             750         L
Knackhack, 10th-level knack       11          3,250         L
Knackhack, 14th-level knack       15        17,500         L

Knackhacks are 1-shot, consumable hybrid cyberdivinations that interface with armor to grant temporary access to techniques and abilities referred to as “prowesses.” A prowess may be a biohacker theorem, envoy improvisation, mechanic trick, operative exploit, or soldier gear boost. There are limitations to which of these prowesses you can use.

A knackhack slots into an otherwise-empty armor upgrade slot. It takes a full round to insert or remove a knackhack, but there’s no skill check or equipment required. A knackhack can only contain a prowess available to a character with a class level lower than the knackhack‘s item level. The prowess operates with a character level equal to the knackhack‘s item level. You can only benefit from one knackhack at a time.

The prowess granted by a knackhack cannot have a Resolve Point cost. It also cannot be on that requires or modifies a class feature or piece of equipment you do not have. For example, a character with no levels in biohacker could not use a knackhack to gain prowess with the theorems of field dressing (which requires a custom microlab) or hampering inhibitor (which requires the ability to use basic inhibitors). However, a non-biohacker character could gain prowess with painful injection, strange anatomy, toxic skin, treat condition, or treatment mastery. (By the same token a biohacker could use a knackhack to gain access to field dressing as a prowess.)

If the prowess has a limited number of uses (per day or other time period), or a limited number of uses that reset when you expend a Resolve Point to regain Stamina Points following a 10-minute rest, then you gain a single use of it with the knackhack (taking whatever action the prowess normally takes), and it is then expended. If it is an ability that grants passive bonuses or van be used at will, it takes a standard action to activate the knackhack, and then the prowess is available for 1 minute.

You cannot create a knackhack unless you have the prowess it grants.

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Hex Rounds and Wandshells for Starfinder

Yesterday we presented spell guns and runethrowers, magic devices that can produce spell effects from battery power. The next obvious question is — can you have magic bullets that produce spell effects?

Of course you can. Presenting: Magic Muntions!

Magic Bullet
(art by Yuri Hoyda)

Magic Munitions                     Item       Credit
Item                                            Level      Cost       Bulk
Hex round, 0-level spell          2             140           L
Wandshell, 0-level spell          3             325           L
Hex round, 1st-level spell       5             450           L
Wandshell, 1st-level spell       7             750           L
Hex round, 2nd-level spell     8          1,400           L
Wandshell, 2nd-level spell    11         3,250           L
Hex round, 3rd-level spell     11         3,700           L
Hex round, 4th-level spell      14       10,600          L
Wandshell, 3rd-level spell      15       17,500          L
Hex round, 5th-level spell      17       36,650          L
Wandshell, 4th-level spell      19       81,000          L
Hex round, 6th-level spell      20     112,800          L

Magic munitions allow you to load a one-shot, consumable version of a spell into a weapon. Any spell with a casting time of no more than 1 standard action, that does not require Resolve Points or materials with a cost, can be turned into a magic munition. Activating a magic munition is a standard action, and when you do so the weapon does not have its normal effect (and does not use any ammo or battery beyond the magic munition). The magic effect normally originates as if you had cast the spell. If the spell has a range of touch, you can instead target any legal target within the weapon’s reach of first range increment. The caster level for the spell effect is equal to the magic munition;s item level.

A hex round can only be fired from a spell gun or runethrower able to cast a spell of the same or higher level, or a weapon with the spellthrower fusion. A wandshell can be loaded into any weapon. As magic munitions these ammos can be loaded into any ranged or melee weapon, even ones not designed for physical ammunition or that are normally totally unpowered. Loading a single he round or wandshell into a weapon is a move action. A weapon can’t have more total item levels worth of magic muntions loaded into it at a time than its own item level. Thus a item level 9 laser pistol with the spellthrowing fusion could have one hex round with a 2nd-level spell, or three wandshells with 0-level spells.

Magic munitions not loaded into a weapon are easily identified as magical at a glance, of even by their unusually heavy heft. Most have the spell loaded into them carefully noted on their casing. You cannot craft a a magic munition of a specific spell unless you can cast that spell, or have someone able to cast the spell available to do so when you create the munition.

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Spellguns and Runethrowers for Starfinder

As soon as you say a setting has spellcasters and blasters, there’s a group of players who want to have spellguns. And that’s fair. After all there are numerous examples of spell-generating hybrid technology in science-fantasy fiction (my specific inspirations come from The Irregular at Magic High School and Outlaw Star, but there are many more examples).

But Starfinder doesn’t really have anything like that. There are spell ampules and spell gems… but those are 1-shot consumables, not the spellguns we want.  So I was going to post a few examples of spell guns last Friday… and realized I hadn’t written how how I figured the item level and cost of such things. So I delayed the article to today, and you get a enarly-double-length Monday article that both shows the design process I used, AND presents two sets of finished spellcasting weapons.

So how do we figure out the effective item level of a device that can cast detect magic using a battery, and how do we scale that against a baleful polymorph rifle?

Well, let’s start with something we CAN easily scale — damage. If we can find a relationship between damaging spells at each level and weapons that are roughly as effective, and spells of each level have roughly the same impact on the game as one another, that should allow us to set item levels for devices that create other spells effects of each level.

It’s best if we pick a few spells that come as close as possible to JUST doing damage at each level. We can then figure out a rough benchmark for the typical weaponlike damage each of these things does, looking back at our benchmarks for weapon damage. There’s some subjectivity there of course, but in general we can compare these to damage from weapons (treating a save and attack rolls to be about even in terms of damage-per-round options, and treating area or ongoing attacks as being 10-20% more damage for benchmark purposes) to tell us roughly what item level weapon does comparable damage.

We want two effective item levels (EIL) for each spell — one taken from the closest equivalent longarm or advanced melee weapon (representing an item used by people skilled in combat), and one taken from the closest 1-handed basic melee weapon or small arm (representing an item use by those unspecialized in combat). Those are listed with a slash as skilled/unspecialized. We’ll go into why we want those separate numbers in a moment.

Technomancer spells have the following exemplar damage spells at each spell level:

Energy Ray (1d3, single target EAC ranged)  EIL – 0/1

Jolting Surge (4d6, single target EAC melee) EIL – 12/15
Overheat (2d8 energy in a cone, save for half) EIL – 11/15

Caustic Conversion (4d6 energy, single target EAC ranged, ongoing damage) EIL – 13/18

Arcing Surge (10d6 energy, line, save for half) EIL – 19/24
Explosive Blast (9d6 energy, radius, save for half) EIL –  19/24

Since we already hitting item level 19+ by 3rd level spells, it’s pretty clear 4th-level and higher spells would be beyond the scope of even 20th level equipment.

So, erring on the side of items that duplicate spells skewing up at lower item levels (as we not the benchmark damage for low-level weapons is a bit off, a weirdness the designers accepted so no one would actually have a weapon that did 1 point of damage), and standardizing the curve between skilled and unspecialized, we come up with the following typical item level for something that can reliable reproduce magic effects:

EIL by Spell Level
0-Level Spells: 3/8
1st-Level Spells: 11/16
2nd-Level Spells: 13/18
3rd-Level Spells: 19/24

We know from the price difference in spell gems vs spell ampules that giving a spellcaster access to more spells from their spell list is cheaper than allowing anyone to use that magic effect, so let’s use the same logic here. The lower “skilled” EIL is what we use for “Spell Guns,” which we define as only being able to be used by a character who can cast spells of the same spell level and class list as the one reproduced by the spell gun. So a microbot assault spell gun can only be used by a technomancer who can cast 2nd level spells.

The higher-level EIL we’ll use for Runethrowers. They function just like Spell Guns, except they can be used by anyone.

Also, we’ll use Small Arms proficiency for Spell Guns (so any spellcasting PC can use them), and Longarms for Runethrowers. Of course attack rolls won’t matter for all spell effects, but we’ll rule that any nonproficiency penalty you take with with a Runethrower impacts both any related save DCs, and reduces the Runethrower’s caster level.

We’re also going to ban any spells that require Resolve Points, have a casting time greater than 1 action, or require an experience material mentioned in the spell description. Otherwise each item casts a spell and works like a spell-like ability with a caster level equal to the item level, and all decisions made by whoever pulls the trigger.

So, borrowing some typical costs and battery usages from appropriate items:

Small Arms

SPELL GUNS                    Item     Credit      Spell
Name                              Level    Cost         Level   Battery  Usage
Spell Gun, Apprentice        3         1,500       0           20            2
Spell Gun, Mage               11       26,000       1           40            4
Spell Gun, Arcanist           13        52,000       2           80            8
Spell Gun, Archmage        19      600,000       3         100          10Spell Gun by info at nextmars dot com
(art by


RUNETHROWERS                 Item     Credit      Spell
Name                                    Level    Cost         Level   Battery  Usage
Runethrower, Neophyte       8          10,000       0           40            4
Runethrower, Warlock         16       180,000      1           80            8
Runethrower, Theurge         18       400,000      2         100            10Spell Rifle by info at nextmars dot com
(art by

Runethrower (neophyte, Warlock, Theurge)
A runethrower is a hybrid weapon that contains a single spell of the listed level. It can convert energy from a battery into the energy needed for that spells, using a rune embedded within the weapon to provide all the eldritch control needed to create magic effects.
Only spells that can be cast in a single action or reaction can be placed in a runethrower (and always use a standard action to activate), and it must not have any Resolve Point cost or require any material with a cost (as noted in the spell description). A runethrower’s caster level is equal to its item level, and any decisions that need to be made when it creates a spell effect are decided by the user.
A runethrower can normally only have a single spell added into it. That spell can be changed to another spell of the same level by anyone with the ranks needed to craft the runethrower, at half the cost of creating a new runethrower. A runethrower can also have a additional spells of the same or lower level placed within it as Weapon Fusions (at the normal fusion cost, though it cannot be transferred from another weapon). Each weapon fusion of this type is treated as a weapon fusion with a level equal to 5 + the level of spell it contains. If a runethrower has multiple spells, the user decides which one to use each time it is activated.
Any penalty to attack rolls a character takes applies to a runethrower’s save DC, and if a character is nonproficient, that penalty also applies to the ruenthrower’s caster level when they use it.

Spell Guns (Apprentice, mage, Arcanist, Archmage)
A spell gun is a hybrid weapon that contains a single spell of the listed level. It can convert energy from a battery into the energy needed for that spells similar to a runethrower, but rather than have an internal rune that provides the directions to create a spell effect, requires an eldritch spark from the user to initiatie this conversion. Thus a character can only use a spell gun if they are of a class and level able to cast the spell contained within the spell gun (though it need not actually be a spell known).
Spell guns otherwise follow the rules for runethrowers.

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Weapon Upgrade Pricing for Starfinder

Here’s the final post for the week, playing with fun options for the weapon damage benchmarks per level for Starfinder I posted on Monday.

Since those benchmarks allow you to determine the damage of nearly any weapon at any item level (grenades and special weapons are special cases), they are half of what we need to allow you to upgrade Starfinder weapons. If you want to have your laser pistol be improved so it does more damage, just select an item level on the EAC small arms table with a benchmark that’s better than your current damage, and increase the pistol’s item level to match.

The big question left, of course, is “how much does that cost?”

Enter the Weapon Upgrade Pricing chart.

To determine the cost of such an upgraded weapon, find the first value on the chart that is more than it’s current cost. Then go three steps down the chart from there for each increase in item level. That entry is the new value of the weapon. Pay the difference between that new value and your original value, and your weapon is upgraded. (Upgrading a weapon requires the same time, resources, and skill at building a weapon of the new item level from scratch).

SF Dull Revolver

SF Revolver

(art by 3droman)

For example: Carl has a 5th level wyrmling dragon rifle, a longarm which does 1d8 fire damage and costs 3,020 credits. But his character is 7th level, has money to spare, and he wants to upgrade the weapon. Looking at the benchmark table, he sees that if he upgrades his longarm to 7th level, it’ll do 2d6 damage. Much better!

His friend Ali the mechanic has the ranks and tools to do the upgrade. All Carl needs to know is the price.

Looking at the Upgrade Pricing Chart, he sees the first value higher than 3,020 is 3,250. Since he increased two item levels he needs to go six steps down the chart, which is 7,000 credits. Since his weapon currently has a value of 3,020, he needs to pay the difference — 3,980 credit (likely in UPBs) to get the weapon upgraded.

Weapon Upgrade Pricing Chart

You can also use the chart to estimate the cost of other kinds of equipment such as armor and even magic items… but that’s a different article!

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Weapons in DungeonFinder (Starfinder variant)

So, Monday I posted a big entry with long lists of tables that gave benchmark damage values for weapons of all types at all item levels in Starfinder, and mentioned there were lots of fun things we could do with a list like that. Here’s another one.

We can eliminate weapon damage being primarily determined by item level.

There are lots of good and well-thought out reasons why damage is tied to item levels in Starfinder, and it works great for the core game, but it makes some setting hacks harder to pull off. In particular, it doesn’t work well for genres that encourage players to get attacked to specific weapons (the Colt revolver Shanna the Gunslinger left you when she rode back into the Outlands, or the longsword your Grandfather carried in the aberration wars two generations ago, and so on).

So, let’s say we wanted to use Starfinder for a pure fantasy campaign, rather than science-fantasy. Perhaps a game set in Solstice, with charters constantly looking for new dungeons to explore.

We’ll call is DungeonFinder… for now.

And we want people to fight with swords and axes and bows in DungeonFinder, rather than plasma sabers and laser pistols. So, first, we make a few fantasy weapons. (This isn’t an exhaustive list, just a short set of examples).

For now we’ll list the prices in “cr,” which could stand for credits, crown coins, copper reals, or whatever. For this example we can treat 1-handed and 2-handed as properties for now (to keep these on fewer charts), allow boost on things without charges, and list the range increment of thrown weapons after the thrown property.

DungeonFinder Weapons

Basic Melee Weapons
Weapon  Item Level  Cost    Damage  Critical           Bulk Properties
Club                  0             0 cr       1d2 B         Knockdown   1        1H, Thrown (10 ft.)
Dagger             1             10 cr     1d3 S                                   L       1 H,  Thrown (15 ft.)
Mace                1             25 cr      1d4 B         Knockdown   1       1H, Boost (1d4)
Maul                1             10 cr      1d6 B         Knockdown   2       2H, Boost (1d6), unwieldy
Spear, light     1             15 cr      1d4 P                                  L       1 H, Reach
Spear, heavy  1             25 cr      1d6 P                                  1       2 H, Reach
Staff                 1             5 cr        1d4 B         Knockdown   1       2H, Block
Stiletto             1             50 cr      1d3 P        Bleed (1d3)     L       1H, Conceal, operative
Torch               1             1 cr         1d2 B & F Burn (1d3)     L       1 H, One 1-hour charge

Advanced Melee Weapons
Weapon  Item Level  Cost    Damage  Critical        Bulk     Properties
Battle Axe        1             50 cr     1d6 S      Wound          1           1 H, boost (1d6)
Great Axe        1            100 cr    1d10 S   Wound           2           2 H, boost (1d6), unwieldy
Great Sword   1             110 cr   2d4 S      Bleed (1d8)   2           2 H
Short Sword   1             30 cr     1d6 S      Bleed (1d4)   L           1 H
Longsword     1             50 cr      1d8 S     Bleed (1d6)   1            1 H
Rapier              1            150 cr     1d6 P     Demoralize  L           1 H, Block, feint, operative

THEN, we say if you are proficient with a weapon, when using it you do either its listed damage, or damage from the appropriate benchmark table using your class level (or perhaps equal to your base attack bonus if we want to give soldiers more of an edge) as the item level.

Magic weapons can have fusions… or really powerful ones could actually do damage at +1 or +2 levels on the benchmark chart.

Dungeonfidner Magic Axe

Slings and throw darts can be Small Arms. Crossbows and longbows Long Arms.

But MAGIC WANDS can be small arms too! Your cogamancer might have a wand of lighting that’s just a 1d6 ranged electricity attack with arc on it…

Dungeonfinder Magic Wands

This allows for a HUGE range of weapons, all of which need only be designed as a single item level, since damage will scale automatically.

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Fun with Starfinder Damage Benchmarks

So, yesterday I posted a big entry with long lists of tables that gave benchmark damage values for weapons of all types at all item levels in Starfinder, and mentioned there were lots of fun things we could do with a list like that. Here’s one of them.

We can scale weapon damage without having pre-written weapons.

For example, here’s a new version of the hammer fist ability from the soldier’s armor storm fighting style.

Hammer Fist (Ex) – 1st Level
You treat any unarmed attack you make while wearing heavy or powered armor as being made with a battleglove with an item level equal to or lower than your soldier level. Calculate damage for these attacks using the 1-handed basic melee benchmark damage, and adding bonuses as if you had the melee striker gear boost. If you have the melee striker gear boost, you gain a +2 bonus to damage rolls with your unarmed attacks when using this ability. These unarmed attacks don’t benefit from other abilities that apply specifically to unarmed attacks (such as the Improved Unarmed Strike feat).

Scifi hand

(art by photoslaz)

With the core rulebook version of hammer fist, you have long dead levels where your damage with this ability doesn’t keep up. Now it goes to 1d6 at 2nd level and so on, keeping up with relevant weapons you could gain at those levels.

We can now also create class features that allow you to exceed the limits of your weapon’s damage, built on the idea a character *can* get access to an item up to their level +2, without creating some stacking nightmare that could be combined with higher-level gear to break the game.

Let’s say we wanted a Melee Weapon Master archetype, and we wanted them to do more damage with their melee weapon than other folks. The archetype can require to you to focus on an advanced melee weapon type, and then give you advantages with it.

Masterwork Damage (Ex): When using a weapon of your focused type that has an item level no greater than your character level, you may do more damage with it. Find the benchmark damage* matching your advanced melee weapon (KAC or EAC, 1-handed or 2-handed). You deal damage one level above your weapon’s benchmark.
*If your weapon damage dice do not exactly match a listed benchmark, your benchmark damage is considered to be the highest damage dice that have an average result that does not exceed your weapon’s damage dice’s average result. For example, if using a 1-handed EAC advanced melee weapon that does 1d20 damage, your benchmark damage is considered to be 3d6 (average of 10.5), as that is the highest total that does not exceed your weapon’s average (also 10.5). You would thus do 3d8, one benchmark level higher, when using this ability.

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Weapon Damage Benchmarks for Starfinder

The following tables are benchmarks for how much damage a typical weapons of a specific type should do at each item level. This is the result of a LOT of work, which I have been doing literally for a couple of years. These numbers are based on creating weapons that match the mathematical assumptions behind combat in Starfinder, so if you have a weapon within a few item levels of your character level, you are within the range of combat effectiveness the game assumes when determining enemy AC and HP.


Of course such a system is not perfect. You can tell just by looking at it that it doesn’t perfectly recreate weapons in Starfinder, especially weapons of item level 5 or less. This is because lower-level weapons are, in fact, too good for the “assumed math” of Starfinder. An optimized 1st-level character can often kill a CR 1 or less foe in a single slightly-luckier-than-average shot. This is never the case at higher levels, and that’s intentional. Essentially when designing this system, low-level fights being easier for low-level characters than mid- and -high level fights are for mid- and high-level characters was considered an acceptable consequence of not wanting to say a 2-handed doshko does 1d6 to 1d8 damage.

Those issues even out at higher item levels, and even so these numbers provide weapons within the rough range of “useful.” That’s going to be important with some interesting things we’re going to do with these values as the week progresses.

*There are assumptions built into these numbers:
*These values assume typical range increment, usage, critical hit effect, and cost.
*A line does damage equal to a weapon three levels lower.
*A blast does damage equal to a weapon four levels lower.
*An unwieldy weapon does damage equal to a weapon two levels higher.
*A typical weapon has a single moderate critical hit and 1-2 positive special qualities. A weapon with none of these can do increased damage, but not as much as a 1-level shift. A weapon with wound, severe wound, or stunned and 1-2 positive special qualities, or with 3 or more special qualities, does damage equal to a weapon one level lower. Being unusually cheap, having a better-than-average range, or having unusually low usage count as a special quality, while the inverse can negate the impact of a special quality.

Weapons of level 9 or less should not have wound, severe wound, or stunned. No weapon should have more than one critical hit effect.

00 Retro Raygun 02 - JEB

Single Target, Ranged KAC Weapons


Level     Heavy   Longarm   Small Arm

-3            1d2         1 pt.       1 pt.

-2            1d3         1d2         1 pt.

-1            1d4         1d3         1 pt.

0              1d6         1d4         1d2

1              1d8         1d6         1d3

2              2d4         1d8         1d4

3              1d10      2d4         1d4

4              1d12      1d10      1d6

5              2d6         1d12      1d8

6              2d8         2d6         1d8

7              3d6         2d8         1d12

8              3d8         3d6         2d6

9              3d10      2d12      2d8

10           5d6         3d8         2d10

11           5d8         4d6         3d6

12           7d6         4d8         3d8

13           7d8         4d10      4d6

14           8d8         5d10      4d8

15           9d8         6d10      6d6

16           10d8      7d10      5d8

17           10d10    8d10      6d8

18           11d10    9d10      7d8

19           12d10    10d10    8d8

20           13d10    11d10    9d8

21           14d10    12d10    10d8

22           15d10    13d10    11d8

Single Target, Ranged EAC Weapons


Level     Heavy   Longarm   Small Arm

-3            1 pt.       1 pt        1 pt.

-2            1d2         1 pt.       1 pt.

-1            1d3         1d2         1 pt.

0              1d4         1d3         1d2

1              1d6         1d4         1d3

2              1d8         1d6         1d3

3              2d4         1d6         1d4

4              1d10      1d8         1d4

5              1d12      1d8         1d6

6              2d6         1d10      1d8

7              2d8         2d6         2d4

8              3d6         2d8         1d10

9              4d6         4d4         2d6

10           5d6         3d6         3d4

11           4d8         3d8         2d8

12           6d6         3d10      3d6

13           5d8         5d6         2d10

14           6d8         4d10      2d12

15           7d8         5d8         3d8

16           6d10      7d6         3d10

17           7d10      8d6         4d8

18           8d10      6d10      4d10

19           9d10      7d10      5d8

20           10d10    8d10      5d10

21           11d10    9d10      6d10

22           12d10    10d10    7d10

KAC Melee

Single Target Melee KAC Weapons

Item        1-handed            2-handed                                          1-handed            2-handed

Level     Advanced            Advanced            Operative          Basic                    Basic

-3            1d2         1d4         1 pt.       1 pt.       1d2

-2            1d3         1d4         1 pt.       1 pt.       1d3

-1            1d3         1d4         1 pt.       1d3         1d3

0              1d4         1d6         1d3         1d4         1d4

1              1d4         1d6         1d3         1d4         1d6

2              1d6         1d6         1d4         1d6         1d6

3              1d6         1d8         1d4         1d6         1d6

4              1d8         1d8         1d4         1d6         1d8

5              1d8         1d10      1d6         1d8         1d8

6              2d4         2d6         1d6         1d8         1d10

7              2d6         2d8         1d8         1d10      1d12

8              2d8         3d6         2d4         1d10      2d8

9              3d6         4d6         2d6         2d8         3d6

10           4d6         5d6         3d4         2d8         3d8

11           5d6         4d8         2d8         2d10      4d6

12           4d8         6d6         3d6         3d8         5d6

13           6d6         7d6         3d8         3d10      4d8

14           6d8         9d6         4d6         4d8         5d8

15           9d6         10d6      5d6         5d8         8d6

16           10d6      11d6      6d6         6d8         9d6

17           12d6      13d6      7d6         7d8         10d6

18           14d6      15d6      8d6         8d8         12d6

19           16d6      17d6      9d6         9d8         13d6

20           18d6      20d6      10d6      11d8      15d6

21           20d6      22d6      11d6      12d8      17d6

22           22d6      25d6      12d6      13d8      19d6

EAC Melee

Single Target Melee EAC Weapons

Item        1-handed            2-handed                                          1-handed            2-handed

Level     Advanced            Advanced            Operative          Basic                    Basic

-3            1 pt.        1d2         1 pt.       1 pt.       1 pt.

-2            1d2         1d3         1 pt.       1 pt.       1 pt.

-1            1d2         1d3         1 pt.        1d2        1 pt.

0              1d3         1d4         1d3         1d3         1d3

1              1d3         1d4         1d3         1d3         1d3

2              1d4         1d4         1d3         1d3         1d4

3              1d4         1d6         1d3         1d3         1d4

4              1d4         1d6         1d3         1d3         1d4

5              1d6         1d8         1d4         1d4         1d6

6              1d8         1d10      1d4         1d6         1d8

7              1d10      2d6         1d6         1d8         1d10

8              1d12      2d8         1d8         2d4         1d12

9              2d8         3d6         2d4         1d10      2d6

10           3d6         3d8         1d10      1d12      2d8

11           3d8         4d6         1d12      2d6         3d6

12           4d6         4d8         2d6         2d8         2d10

13           5d6         6d6         2d8         3d6         3d8

14           5d8         7d6         3d6         3d8         4d6

15           6d6         6d8         3d8         4d6         5d6

16           6d8         7d8         4d6         4d8         5d8

17           7d8         8d8         5d6         6d6         6d8

18           8d8         9d8         4d8         7d6         7d8

19           9d8         10d8      6d6         9d6         8d8

20           10d8      15d6      7d6         10d6      9d8

21           11d8      17d6      8d6         12d6      10d8

22           12d8      19d6      9d6         13d6      11d8

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Lassos in Really Wild West (for Starfinder)

A lasso is definitely a thematic option for the Really Wild West, but it’s also something that can become unbalanced quickly or weird quickly. Lassos use in the real world to capture cattle is extremely common, but it’s use for anything else in a modern era is equally uncommon. While there were roman gladiatorial laquearius, but it is unclear if they were true gladiators or closer to clowns who fought mock battles. There are records of various groups in antiquity using lassos in combat, but they are neither clear nor common.

So, we need the lasso to be easily and commonly used to bring down big, strong cattle, and to be something you can use in combat but with a great deal more difficulty. We need it’s use to be common among cowboys, and rare among most other people.

I want to avoid using feats to cover this for a couple of reasons. First, it seems unlikely most cowboy builds will consider a feat a reasonable cost to be able to do a core, iconic thing from their concept. Secondly, if someone DOES expend a feat on lassoing, they’ll want to try to use the lasso all the time, rather than when it’s actually the right tool for a an encounter. So, we need to look to the item/weapon design itself to thread this needle of utility.

This is a first stab at such an item, which almost certainly will be adjusted given some playtesting. As a special weapon no one gains proficiency with it automatically from their class, but the “professional” weapon special property (defined in Armor) means anyone with 1 rank in Profession: Cowboy is considered proficient, which seems a reasonable compromise.

RWW lariat

(art by Elena)

2-Handed Special Weapon
Item       Level  Price       Dam    Crit           Range   Bulk   Special
Lasso         1         30            —      Entangle       15 ft.        1       Professional (Cowboy 1 rank)

A lasso is a ranged, 2-handed special weapon. A character trained in Survival or Profession: Cowboy can use a lasso to control a creature within 30 feet that has an Intelligence modifier of -3 or less. The DC for this check is 10 + 1.5x the CR of the creature. On a successful check, you control the creature’s movement until the end of your next round. If your check exceed’s the DC by 5 or more, the creature is flat-footed and off-target. If you are adjacent to the creature, exceed the check by 5 or more, and the creature was already flat-footed or off-target, you can bind the creature with the lasso, leaving it helpless.

If proficient with a lasso, you can use it to make grapple checks at range. You gain a +5 bonus to your attack roll if the target has no hands or arms, and a +5 bonus if your target has an Intelligence modifier of -3 or less. Once grappled the target is entangled (with you as the tether) as the weapon special property. If you use a lasso to successfully grapple an adjacent creature that is pinned, you can bind two of their limbs as if using manacles.

A lasso takes half damage from bludgeoning, piercing, cold, and sonic attacks.

Higher-level lassos made of special materials (and thus having higher hardness and HP) may exist.

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